Bladder Cancer in Dogs

Lili Duda, VMD
Last Modified: November 1, 2001

Dear OncoLink "Ask the Experts,"
Our 10 year old Sheltie was just diagnosed with bladder cancer. The tumor appears to be about 1 1/2" and is located near the opening of the urethra. The bladder appears to be abnormally shaped. Could you possibly outline the likely treatment options?

Lili Duda, VMD, Editor of the OncoLink Veterinary Oncology Section, responds:

Unfortunately, most bladder tumors are not diagnosed until they have become too large, or are in a location where surgery is not a treatment option. Treatment efforts are aimed at controlling the clinical signs (such as straining to urinate, blood in the urine, etc.) for as long as possible (which usually means months, rather than years).

The traditional chemotherapy drugs such as Adriamycin and Cytoxan, or cisplatin are the standard treatment for this tumor. These drugs do have some effectiveness in controlling bladder tumors. A newer approach uses a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug called piroxicam (tradename Feldene, which is similar to drugs like ibuprofen) which has shown anti-tumor effects against transitional cell carcinoma, as well as decreasing inflammation associated with the tumor.

Additionally, your dog should be evaluated for the presence of a urinary tract infection (urinalysis, culture and sensitivity) and treated with antibiotics as needed. Kidney function should be monitored periodically as well (via blood chemistries).

Each of the mentioned treatments has certain manageable risks, which must be weighed against potential benefits and your dog's overall health. These should be discussed with your veterinarian or veterinary oncologist, along with any other questions or concerns you may have.

If you or your veterinarian have not already done so, please consult a qualified veterinary oncologist to further explore the treatment options for your pet.